Debenhams National Shop Stewards Unanimously Endorse a Mandate/ICTU Campaign to Secure Urgent Legislation

Friday 11 September 2020

Media Release: Mandate Trade Union

For immediate release: Friday 11th September 2020

 A National Representative group of Mandate members from all Debenhams store locations have unanimously endorsed a new initiative involving their union Mandate and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. This campaign is designed to secure urgent enactment of legislation which would help resolve the intractable Debenhams dispute and ensure guarantees for workers finding themselves abandoned by their employer in similar circumstances.  

Speaking following the meeting, Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary said, “The bravery and steely determination shown by our members over the past number of months towards achieving a satisfactory settlement has helped heighten and focus attention on this totally avoidable dispute.” Mandate Trade Union is calling on the government to immediately implement new legislation which contains the recommendations of the Duffy/Cahill review in its entirety, so that workers with an employer currently in the process of liquidation can benefit from its provisions and that future workers in similar circumstances are protected from rogue employers.

 Light continued, “When this legislation is finally implemented the ex-Debenhams workers would then be entitled to the collectively agreed redundancy package negotiated by their union of four weeks’ pay per year of service. Frankly, we’ve heard enough words of sympathy from our politicians. The time for soundbites has long passed, the workers of this country need immediate and decisive action. Bailing out the banks was managed overnight so let’s see similar urgency attached to the plight of workers left high and dry by unscrupulous employers.”

 Mandate Trade Union said that the liquidator pulling out of any proposed settlement leaves the workers with only one avenue for achieving their demands.

 “If the workers can’t get the money they’re owed from the liquidator or indeed their former employer, then the only people who can resolve this to the benefit of the workers is the government.”

Mr Light explained: “Mandate along with the ICTU met Minister Damien English TD and presented a proposal which would bring an end to the continuing abuse of workers in this country. The union proposal would see the establishment of a fund contributed into by employers in the event of liquidation.

 He added, “This fund could be retrospectively applied to the Ex-Debenhams workers facilitating advance payment of their redundancy pay. Similar funds exist in several European countries and they work progressively to ensure workers get their full settlement in a redundancy scenario.”

 “These brave workers are approaching six months on picket lines fighting for their basic entitlements and Mandate is fully behind them every step of the way,” he said. “If the will was there from government, the changes could be made immediately. There isn’t a single TD in the opposition who would oppose the implementation of this piece of legislation which the government has been sitting on for four years now.”

 Mandate is calling on all political parties and representatives to publicly declare their support for this Mandate/ICTU initiative. We all have a moral and social responsibility to do everything within our power to bring this long overdue and much needed legislation into existence. The workers of Ireland, the brave workers on Debenhams picket lines, deserve nothing less.